One more piece for Christmas!

Thank you and Seasons Greetings

Massive thanks to all CMLs for all the exceptional work you do in your communities. We also want to take this opportunity to thank you for your ongoing support. Best wishes for a joyful holiday season and a Happy New Year to all.

Short Survey and Monthly Virtual Network Meetings – January 2021

Following on from the Lockdown 1 survey, we would be grateful if you could complete the CML Covid-19 follow up survey to help us understand the ongoing effect of the pandemic on CMLs. It should take you between 5-10 minutes to complete. The link will be live until 7th of January 2021.

Insights from the survey will inform discussions with government policy leads, we will also share outcomes at our monthly virtual network meetings which start on 7th January from 10.30am You can book a place HERE

Digital Skills for Libraries

Please read on for this interesting piece from Chris Clarke, Friends of Jesmond Library.

Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity & culture. If that makes you think of Covent Garden and the Tate Gallery, you may not realise that the Council’s wide remit includes public libraries, and in particular, as part of that remit, community managed libraries!

One of the specific initiatives of the Arts Council is the establishment of the Digital Culture Network. This has really come to the fore during the COVID pandemic, not only helping arts organisations with their online marketing and communications activities, but also supporting the development of programmes of online concerts, plays, art exhibitions and staff training.

Now, in a new initiative, the Digital Culture Network has established a programme of “Digital Skills for Libraries” activities, including a series of webinars which will look at key tools and strategies to support library organisations who have taken some of their activities online or are engaging with their communities digitally whilst their buildings are closed, or access is restricted. And one lesson that many libraries have learned over the last few months is that there is likely to be a continuing demand for online activities, even when library buildings are fully open again.

All these webinars are open to volunteers at community libraries, as well as to staff in local authority libraries. And all the webinars organised so far are free, and are recorded so that all the presentations, discussion and follow up materials can be accessed after the event, through the Digital Culture Network website.

I joined the first webinar, on Creating and Delivering Digital Content, held early in December, which included useful tips on Zoom and Microsoft Teams, suggestions for extra bits of kit which might help make your online events more professional, tips on free video editing platforms, and using YouTube. It was interesting for a volunteer, such as myself, to be in a group with a wide variety of local authority librarians, particularly in the discussion, questions and answers.

There will be further free webinars specifically for libraries, in the New Year, but some community libraries may also be interested in some of the Network’s more general webinars, such as one on “How to make your content accessible” on 12 January at 2pm, or “Getting started with live streaming” on 27 January.

Much of the work of the Digital Culture Network is carried out by its network of nine Tech Champions, who each have their own areas of expertise, as well as being physically located in different bases all over England. All the Tech Champions are available to provide specialist one-to-one diagnostic conversations. The network’s website states that this is only available to people who “work for an arts and cultural organisation”, but it has been confirmed that this includes volunteers in a community managed library.

There is much more information on the website and knowledge hub . This includes information on the full events programme . Another useful start, accessed through the website, is to sign up for the Digital Culture Network’s newsletter.

See you all in 2021


Short Updates and Network Meetings from January 2021

We hope you are all well and safe.

Network Meetings from January 2021

From 7th January 2021 we will be hosting monthly facilitated virtual network meetings to share our experiences and learning; challenges and issues and get support from peers. There will be break-out rooms to focus on specific topics, live local or national issues. Together we hope to learn from each other, get encouragement and support from our peers.

The monthly meetings will also give us the opportunity to collate learning from CMLs to inform discussions or decisions at national level. From time to time, and based on need, speakers will be invited to join the Network meetings.

Please sign up HERE

Celebrating CMLs

Have you had any letters of appreciation  for your  work during these Covid times? Can you share any from local MPs , local councillors etc, members of the public? Particularly if they demonstrate how vital you were to their well-being/mental health. If you do, then please email

Short Survey

Following on from the survey we did over the summer, we have pulled together a very short survey to assess the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on CMLs. We hope to share the information at national level. The link will be available online tomorrow and hope you will help us by completing the survey.

Libraries are vital community hubs with so much to offer

Burley Library Article

You may be interested in this article about Burley Library which was published in the People’s Friend Summer Special in June 2020.

New £4m Fund to Help Reduce Loneliness in England Opens 5 January

Funded by the Government and the National Lottery Community Fund, the new £4 million Local Connections Fund is intended for small constituted voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations with an annual income of £50,000 or less.

There will be two funding rounds, with a total of £2 million available for each round. Grants of between £300 and £2,500 are to be used to:

  • Build relationships in and across communities to help reduce loneliness and build connections between people and communities
  • Bring together organisations who are working on social connections to celebrate their work, share learning and best practice, and form/bring together peer networks.

This is to help make:

  • People and communities feel more connected.
  • Individuals feel supported and less lonely or isolated.
  • People more aware of services available that help them to connect with others and get involved.
  • Organisations learn from each other.

The grants can be used for a number of different things including staff salaries, volunteer expenses, management costs, overheads, small-scale equipment and small-scale venue improvements. Applications will be accepted from constituted VCSE organisations that serve communities within England. There will be two funding rounds, one in January 2021 and one in summer 2021.

Applications open on 5 January 2021 and close on 26 January 2021. Read on….Community groups tackling loneliness to benefit from £4m fund – GOV.UK (

Stay safe.